Six Nations 2013: I love silencing the crazy crowds, says Manu Tuilagi ahead of England's showdown with Wales

England centre cannot wait to make his Millennium Stadium debut and revel in the reception

Manu Tuilagi has never once set foot inside the Millennium Stadium – considered by many to be the finest of all rugby union venues, although at least four grounds in South Africa give it a run for its money – so he is not entirely sure what to expect when he takes the field on Grand Slam business in two days' time. Happily for England, the human bowling ball is the last person on earth to lie awake at night worrying about the shock of the new, for the very good reason that he is not in the habit of worrying about anything.

"I've always wanted to go to Cardiff and watch a game in that stadium," he said. "The thought of playing there really excites me. I enjoy it when I'm playing against the home supporters – the crowd I like most in the Premiership are at Gloucester; they're really crazy – and if they close the roof at the Millennium, the noise level will be really loud.

"The way I see it, we're not the ones with the pressure on us. The game is in Wales, so they're the ones who have to perform. And anyway, we're really good at playing away. We haven't lost a Six Nations game on the road for two years."

The Leicester centre is not thinking in terms of England losing this one, either. He is far from arrogant – the very opposite, in fact – but self-doubt is not obviously a part of his make-up.

If Stuart Lancaster, the red-rose coach, asked him to play on the wing, thereby creating a midfield space for the Gloucester playmaker Billy Twelvetrees and his greater range of skills, he would simply shrug his shoulders and crack on with doing what he likes to do on a rugby field: that is to say, smithereen opponents when he runs at them and marmalise them when they run at him.

Lancaster is not expected to do any such thing when he confirms his starting line-up today. England are likely to make changes in both half-back positions – Owen Farrell for Toby Flood, Ben Youngs for Danny Care – and may well go with Tom Croft rather than James Haskell on the blind-side flank. There has also been a serious discussion about restoring the Harlequins prop Joe Marler to the front row in place of Mako Vunipola, who performed strongly on his first start last weekend, while the young Wasps lock Joe Launchbury will give way to Courtney Lawes if he fails to recover from the elbow injury that hampered him against Italy last weekend.

England's midfield balance is patently a matter for close examination over the coming weeks and months, but, in fairness to the coach, a Grand Slam game against the nearest and dearest on the less welcoming bank of the Severn is hardly the time to experiment. Especially as Tuilagi, for all his limitations as a creative force, has established himself as the team's chief source of tries. Since Lancaster took charge at the start of last year's Six Nations, Tuilagi has scored six of the things – twice as many as the scrum-half Youngs, his nearest challenger.

He did not find his way across the line against the Azzurri last Sunday, but then, neither did anyone else. These individual and collective failures were not, however, down to any lack of intent, according to his midfield partner Brad Barritt – the man charged with the task of holding England's defence together in the face of the serious threat posed by a Welsh back division just running into form.

"There was no shortage of ambition against Italy," argued the Saracens player. "The stumbling block was poor execution in the opposition 'red zone'. We'll need to show some patience against Wales, rather than try to do everything as fast as we can.

"We'll also have to be a lot more aggressive at the tackle area, especially if they pair Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric as their flankers. Italy stifled us in that department. In Cardiff, we'll need to get to the breakdown first and dominate the space."

If Barritt is England's go-to man in defence, he is one of the can-do men in the dressing room. He may not be immune to doubt like Tuilagi, but he is no one's idea of a pessimist. If the big prizes of title and Slam go the way of the red rose this weekend, he will not be in the least surprised.

"We'll see it as an accomplishment, but also as a stepping stone on the road to where we want to be," he said. "With a home World Cup coming up in 2015, we want to perform on the international stage with ever-increasing confidence. The next step in that process is this game in Wales and it would be a massive shame not to take it."

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...